January 2022 Recruitment Plan: Part Three - Attacking Transfer Targets

In this article I will review the West Ham United squad utilising Data via WyScout to provide an objective assessment of the squad performance over the period of 2021/2022 season to date (30th December). The objective is to review the current West Ham United first team via the data along with subjective scouting observations and make recommendations on their potential future at the Club.



Based on the review of the current squad the document shall look to provide an overview of possible targets, highlighting those players who are viewed as realistic targets for West Ham United's transfer budget and wage structure. All players part of the percentile review against West Ham United players have all played a minimum of 800 minutes this season in their respective leagues across Europe’s top five divisions.

This document is not affiliated with West Ham United and is the work of Mike Hare (@scouting_btl, with additional scout reports available, PFSA certification Level 1 and 2 in Talent Identification, Technical Scouting, Opposition Analysis and PFSA Level 3 Advanced Reporting plus FA Certification Talent ID Level 1).

Note: This document was inspired by the work of Liam Henshaw (@HenshawAnalysis) and Chris Kearney (@AnalyticsForest). If you have the time please review the brilliant work they did in the Nottingham Forest Recruitment Plan Summer 2021.


Transfer Brief

West Ham United have a squad reaching their later peak years and a number of experienced players coming into their final year or two of their contracts. This window there is the opportunity to reduce the average age of the squad, setting long term options within the squad across areas which lack quality in depth.

West Ham United are at a pivotal point in the season competing in both domestic and continental competitions, with the necessity to improve the quality and strength in depth. There is a guaranteed departure for over a month with Said Benrahma representing Algeria at the AFCON competition and will require a review of the market as to possible backup which can be brought in to supplement his departure whilst adding competition to those remaining.

There are long term injuries currently to Angelo Ogbonna (out for the season) and Aaron Cresswell (no return date) resulting in a recruitment focus to find a ball playing left sided centre back and a progressive left back able to operate in both a three and four-man defence. left back has an additional focus with Arthur Masuaku likely available for transfer, should an acceptable fee be submitted to the club.

With the impending retirement of Mark Noble plus insecurity and questions around effectiveness of Alex Kral (loan), a potential need for a strong, defensively-sound centre midfielder comfortable in possession is an additional area of focus in the event of loan termination.

Note: Data only includes players who have played >800 mins at LB | All data is per 90 mins | Data is via WyScout | Valuations via CIES Football Observatory


Winter Transfer Targets 2021/22: Central Midfielders

West Ham United currently have Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek performing strongly, but there are questions over the future of Alex Kral’s loan deal as well as Mark Noble impending retirement. The focus is to review the possible options in this window to improve the quality of depth whilst also providing a long term option to compete with both Rice and Soucek for places. The focus is to find a disciplined and strong presence in centre midfield. The player needs to be able to support the defence out of possession and be comfortable in possession.

*Note: Players selected as targets outside the top five European leagues (or UK where English Championship players are identified) have an additional median line set at 20% above the standard average for those competing in the top divisions. This 20% is to compensate for the league’s they feature in being of a lesser competition reputation and quality.


Boubacar Kamara

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Age: 22 (23.11.1999)
Estimated Value: €7m - €10m
Height: 1.84m (6”0)
Contract Expires: 30.06.2022



Positives

• Proficient in multiple roles through the spine of the team

• Plays in a high intensity, high possession system with a high rate of ball retention

• Strong defensive mindset with above average metrics across the board

• Good positional understanding and ability to close passing lanes

• Despite his size he has a good leap and strong aerially

• High levels of concentration

• Improved quality in depth at CM

• Correct expires end of the season – reasonable inexpensive fee potentially

Negatives

• A lot of interest across Europe, namely from AC Milan which could impact chances to secure

Summary

Boubacar Kamara’s contract is up in 6 months which provides West Ham United the opportunity to secure a pre-contract with the player this window or option to try and secure a cut price deal now. Defensively is very strong, calm and imposing against the opposition press with a focus on retaining possession with above average accuracy.


Cheick Doucoure

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Age: 21
Estimated Value: €10m - €15m
Height: 1.80m (5”11)
Contract Expires: 30.06.2024



Positives

• Athletic and physically strong

• box to box Centre Midfield option

• Strong in ground duels and combative tackler

• Good in possession comfortable travelling with the ball at his feet

• Solid ball retention and progression with an expansive passing range

• Good vision with the ability to fine teammates between the lines of the opposition

Negatives

• Finishing

• Aerial ability

Summary

Cheick Doucoure has developed over the course of the past two seasons in Ligue 1 from a defensively minded enforcer and disruptor into a box to box type. His athleticism and strength make him an imposing figure as part of a two-man pivot in the Lens midfield. West Ham United have a highly proficient ball carrier and passer in Declan Rice with Doucoure comparable across multiple possession metrics. The signing of Doucoure would provide the club with a second midfielder with a high retention rate which in high pressure games could provide the ability to hold possession and help to close out matches by stifling the opposition by denying them possession of the ball.


Mohamed Camara

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Age: 21 (6.01.2000)
Estimated Value: €18m - €23m
Height: 1.75m (5”8)
Contract Expires: 30.06.2025



Positives

• Combative, robust tackling

• Disruptive to opposition possession

• Good acceleration and pace

• Positive decision making defensively

• box to box ability

• Highly progressive with the ball at his feet looks to drive through midfield

• Direct passing looks to break the opposition lines of defence consistently

• Prefers to pass to advanced team mate than take on a shot himself

Negatives

• Not a reliable goal threat when supporting the attack

• Could command a high fee making it difficult to secure a deal

Summary

Mohamed Camara draws comparisons with N’Golo Kante with his tenacious play and disruptive influence on the opposition’s ability to retain possession. He plays with high energy, demonstrating good stamina in the box to box role. Camara is very progressive with the ball at his feet and forward thinking in his passing looking to penetrate the between opposition consistently with his passing looking to capitalise on teammates in free space. A deal in the winter could be difficult but would be certainly someone to review again in the summer.


Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's central midfielders: possession statistics

Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's central midfielders: attacking statistic

Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's central midfielders: defending statistics


Winter Transfer Targets 2021/22: Central Attacking Midfielders

West Ham United currently have a highly flexible set of attacking players comfortable playing along the line behind the Centre Forward. Saïd Benrahma is away on International duty until February and Andriy Yarmolenko is potentially available this January window which would leave the club with limited options. The focus is to find a tactically flexible player able to perform in multiple roles and positions to provide support and competition to current set of attacking players.

*Note: Players selected as targets outside the top five European leagues (or UK where English Championship players are identified) have an additional median line set at 20% above the standard average for those competing in the top divisions. This 20% is to compensate for the league’s they feature in being of a lesser competition reputation and quality.


Fabio Carvalho

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Age: 19 (30.18.2002)
Estimated Value: £2.5m - £5m
Height: 1.70m (5”7)
Contract Expires:30.06.2022



Positives

• Ability to find space between the lines

• Sustained pace and quick acceleration

• Consistently looks to progress play through running directly at the opposition with the ball

• A low centre of gravity

• Draws fouls due to his pace and skill

• Looks for a through ball often with aggressive passing in the final third

• Can play in multiple positions behind the Centre Forward

• Correct expires end of the season – reasonable and inexpensive fee likely

Negatives

• Crossing

• Physical strength

Summary

Fabio Carvalho has experience of the Premier League after breaking into the Fulham side at the tail end of in their ill fated 2020/2021 season. Carvalho possesses great pace and compensates for his lack of physical strength with a very good low centre of gravity. With his contract up this summer a cut price deal could be possible now and would provide West Ham United with a future potential starlet as well as great pace in transition.


Brennan Johnson

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Age: 20 (23.05.2001)
Estimated Value: £10m - £15m
Height: 1.79m (5”10)
Contract Expires:30.06.2023



Positives

• Direct and progressive dribbler with possession at his feet

• Good crossing ability and accuracy

• A threat in the transition to attack and in counter attacking situations

• Calm and composed finisher

• Young with time to develop further

• International player

• Correct expires end of the season – reasonable and inexpensive fee likely

Negatives

• Passing accuracy is below the average line

• Can be on the periphery of the game often

• Low defensive contribution

Summary

Brennan Johnson spent the 2020/2021 season on loan Lincoln City in League One where he was involved in 15 league G/A (11 goals and 4 assists), Johnson has returned to Nottingham Forest to be a key member of their first team. He has a similar directness to that of Jarrod Bowen and likely compliment West Ham United’s counter attacking style they can employ. His defensive contribution would need to improve however to be a regular in a David Moyes team, but his low defensive involvment can also be attributed to Nottingham Forest’s tactical setup. With his contract due to expire this is an interesting deal to pursue and would provide long term backup to Bowen and eventual competition across the forward positions.


Ludovic Blas

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Age: 24 (31.12.1997)
Estimated Value: €10m - €15m
Height: 1.80m (5”11)
Contract Expires:30.06.2024



Positives

• Tactically flexible and can play in an inverted winger role or as an attacking midfielder

• Good finishing

• Strong technical ability and ball control

• Good crossing ability and accuracy

• Aggressive final third passing

• Ability to find play in the half spaces

• Good strength and pace

• Progressive with the ball at his feet and direct

• Positive work rate in both attacking and defensive phases of play

• Heavy involvement in attack characterized by above average second assists metric

Negatives

• Struggles to make an impact in aerial duels

• Can shot with too much power resulting in shots lacking control

• Tackling can be area of weakness

Summary

Ludovic Blas is a highly technical and skillful individual who is a facilitator of the Nantes attack with the important responsibility of starting and finishing opportunities. His role allows him a free role and absolves him of defensive responsibilities, however he has good work rate supporting the defensive press and is quick to get back into shape once out of possession. His style is similar to what West Ham benefitted from with Jesse Lingard although a more considered passing approach could yield greater returns.


Adnan Januzaj

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Age: 26 (5.02.1995)
Estimated Value: €4m - €7m
Height: 1.86m (6”1)
Contract Expires:30.06.2022



Positives

• Experience of the Premier League

• Experienced International

• Strong technical ability

• Highly creative and good vision

• Positive progressive play with the ball at his feet or through his passing

• High quality delivery, variation and accuracy from wide positions

• Spatial awareness

• Quick feet and turn of pace to create space

• Correct expires end of the season – reasonable inexpensive fee likely

Negatives

• Defensive contribution is low

• Can lack strength in defensive situations

Summary

Adnan Januzaj, since his departure from Manchester United in 2017, has made 150 appearances for Real Sociedad. Januzaj would not only bring to West Ham United a wealth of Continental competition experience, but inventiveness and creativity to the attack. His flexibility to operate along the attacking line behind the Centre Forward is very appealing as he can provide competition as well as quality should he break into the first team starting XI on a regular basis.


Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's attacking midfielders and wingers: attacking statistics

Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's attacking midfielders and wingers: possession statistics

Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's attacking midfielders and wingers: defending statistics


Winter Transfer Targets 2021/22: Centre Forwards

West Ham United currently have only one recognised Centre Forward in Michail Antonio which poses a risk to the season, should he suffer a long term injury as has been the case previously with a history of hamstring issues. The focus is to find a player that is able to play in the transitions with good pace, being clinical in front of goal and able to provide strong link play. Ideally, the Centre Forward should be tactically flexible and able to play in multiple positions and roles to provide David Moyes with options, but also to retain a smaller squad with players able to manage multiple uses in the first team.

*Note: Players selected as targets outside the top five European leagues (or UK where English Championship players are identified) have an additional median line set at 20% above the standard average for those competing in the top divisions. This 20% is to compensate for the league’s they feature in being of a lesser competition reputation and quality.


Jonathan David

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Age: 21 (14.01.2000)
Estimated Value: €30m - €50m
Height: 1.80 (5”11)
Contract Expires:30.06.2025



Positives

• Clinical, composed finishing

• Explosive acceleration and pace

• Big threat in behind the defence or against a high defensive line

• Plays on the shoulder of the last defender

• Creative outlet ability to drop and link play

• Progressive final third passing ability

• Spatial awareness

• Operates in the half spaces

• Confident with the ball at his feet and progressive runner

• Quality ball control and technical ability

Negatives

• Avoids aerial duels where possible

• Traditionally plays as part of a 4-4-2 with a strike partner

• Would need to adapt to a lone Centre Forward role

• Defensive contribution is low despite above average defensive duels per 90

Summary

Jonathan David, since moving to Ligue 1 in 2020/21 has scored 25 goals from an xG of 20.17 with 12 alone coming this season. David has demonstrated his clinical finishing and progression as a Centre Forward this season providing a constant threat to the opposition with his explosive pace and good movement creating multiple opportunities to get through 1v1 with the opposition goalkeeper. Should David bring this to West Ham United, a deal would represent a long term successor to Michail Antonio along with much-needed competition.


Darwin Nunez

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Age: 22 (24.06.1999)
Estimated Value: €20m - €30m
Height: 1.87m (6”2)
Contract Expires:30.06.2025



Positives

• Tactically flexible and able to operate as an inside forward from the left or as Centre Forward

• High work ethic

• Aggressive in the final third with progressive and key passes

• Confident in possession with close control

• Good finishing ability

• Creativity and vision

• Variation as well as quality deliveries from wide areas

Negatives

• Can be caught offside regularly

• Passing accuracy requires improvement

Summary

Darwin Nunez is a young Centre Forward who is direct and explosive in the opposition final third. He is heavily involved in the creation or finishing of opportunities for Benfica. His versatility would be an asset for West Ham especially with Said Benrahma away at the AFCON competition. Nunez is capable in a wide left berth and would enable a natural finisher in the attacking third to accompany Antonio in the area. Nunez thrives in transition and is able find space in the area or infield to link play particularly in counter attacks.


Arthur Cabral

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Age: 23 (25.04.1998)
Estimated Value: €15m - €20m
Height: 1.86m (6”1)
Contract Expires:30.06.2023



Positives

• Physically strong

• Good link play

• Technically proficient with close ball control

• Ability to score a range of goals

• Powerful heading and shooting

• Invention in tight spaces with ability to produce acrobatics

• Aerially combative and strong

Negatives

• Less space to find a shot at goal

• Higher quality defenders

• Plays width of the area, can limit ability to attack via the channels

• Least flexible of potential targets as only really comfortable as a Centre Forward

• Would need to be more progressive travelling with the ball in the Premier League/West Ham United squad

Summary

Of the highlighted targets Arthur Cabral offers the closest playing style in terms of physicality to Michail Antonio. His aerial prowess would ensure a threat from set pieces, a key attacking avenue for West Ham United as he's an imposing figure for the opposition area when dealing with crosses from out wide. Whilst Cabral is strong physically and possesses good technical ability on the ball he prefers not to dribble often in favour of passing to a teammate and attacking the space centrally to get into the area sooner. In the Premier League the quality of the opposition is higher and less space/time when shooting which he’ll need to adapt to. However, Cabral operates well in tight spaces and is inventive
when shooting on goal.


Adam Hlozek

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Age: 19 (25.30.2002)
Estimated Value: €15m - €25m
Height: 1.88m (6”2)
Contract Expires:30.06.2024



Positives

• Tactically flexible and can play across the forward positions

• Creativity and Vision – nine league assists

• Awareness of teammates in space

• Strong technical ability especially when shooting with either foot

• Composed in possession, direct in his play typified by progressive runs and passes

• Skillful

• Dynamic in the final third with heavy involvement in attacking phases of play

Negatives

• Would need to adapt physically to the Premier League
• Need to increase consistency against high opposition

• Goal conversion would require improvement

• Low defensive contribution, however, this is also due to tactical setup allowing a free role to counter the opposition

Summary

Adam Hlozek made his debut for Spart Prague at 16 years old and despite his young age represented the club over 100 times and has 12 international caps for Czech Republic. The flexibility of Hlozek would be a benefit to West Ham United and appeal to David Moyes’ desire to operate with smaller squads due to his ability to operate in multiple positions across the attack. Should Hlozek take the step up a level he’ll be required to improve upon his conversion rate, but this is something he can develop. In terms of style, Hlozek has similarities with Marko Arnautovic in his invention, creativity and ability to score with regularity.


Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's Michail Anotonio: attacking statistics

Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's Michail Anotonio: possession statistics

Click to view target comparison against West Ham United's Michail Anotonio: defending statistics


Additional Players to monitor

Left Back

Pervis Estupinan (23), Villarreal – Would likely command a high fee this window. Explosive acceleration and dynamic.


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David Raum (23), Hoffenheim – Has brought his form from Bundesliga 2 into the new season, is a player to monitor for the summer as difficult to secure this window.

Ridvan Yilmaz (23), Besiktas – Turkish International, very good acceleration and pace. Quality delivery from wide positions.

Malang Sarr (22), Chelsea – Potentially available on loan this winter window can operate comfortably in both left back and left centre back.

Centre Back

Duje Caleta-Car (25), Olympique Marseille – Ball-playing centre back and Croatian international, potentially available to due financial issues across Ligue 1.

Attila Szalai (23), Fenerbahce – Hungarian international can play both left back and centre back. Physically strong and a threat at attacking set pieces.

Nathan Ake (26), Manchester City – Potentially available on loan, experienced Premier League left sided centre back. Composed defender in and out of possession.

Nathan Phillips (24), Liverpool – Potentially available for approx. £15m this window. Combative centre Defence traditionally plays at RCB, ideal long term Dawson replacement.

Oluwatosin Adarabioyo (24), Fulham – Mobile and towering centre back, Fulham are chasing promotion which could prove it difficult to secure a deal for a reasonable fee.

Bremer (24), Torino – Ball playing and mobile centre back, looks to anticipate the opposition movements to intercept possession. Strong aerially.

Centre Midfield

Seko Fofana (26), Lens – box to box midfielder, club captain and goal threat. A deal would like be expensive but certainly a player to monitor further.


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Ainsley Maitland-Niles (24), Arsenal – Utility player able to cover either flank and centre midfield areas, actively looking for more game time away from AFC.

Ibrahim Sangare (24), PSV – Towering midfielder (6”3), physically dominant in defensive duels and comfortable in a possession based system.

Mohamed Mady Camara (24), Olympiacos – All round midfielder with high stamina and intensity.

Central Attacking Midfield/Winger

Jesse Lingard (29), Manchester United – Out of contract in the summer, had an excellent loan spell with West Ham United 20/21. A reasonable fee possible.

Romain Faivre (23), Brest – Highly skillful and creative outlet with 13 G/A this season. Excellent set pieces.

Breel Embolo (24), BMG – Strong, dynamic and explosive pace. BMG will likely want a high fee, a summer move could be possible.

Ben Brereton-Diaz (22), Blackburn Rovers – Good finishing through typically arriving late or from the left wing position as an inverted wide forward.

Jonathan Bamba (25), Lille – With Lille in financial crisis a reasonable fee or loan deal could be possible. Dynamic and lightening quick, counter attacking threat.

centre Forward

Julian Alvarez (21), River Plate – Diminutive and clinical goal scorer (G: 24 from 16.25 xG), draws comparisons with compatriot Serio Agüero.

Divock Origi (26), Liverpool – Physically strong, technically sound with plenty of experience in the Premier League. Could prove difficult with Mane and Salah at AFCON to secure his signature this window.

Mohamed Bayo (23), Clermont Foot – Clinical finisher, good aerial ability and potentially available for a reasonable fee.

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